Insecurity and anxiety are the two hands of unhappiness that we wring over and over. Like two snakes swallowing each other by the tail, this deadly circle can go round and round without end. It is hard to know which comes first; they can be so merged into one shaky, needy emotion. Everyone suffers from insecurity to some extent, but here are some signs that your inability to receive love is killing your relationships and harming you.
1: Insecurity drives us to court approval.
I don’t think we realize what a strong drive approval-seeking is. Some of us constantly recite our successes in order to prove to everyone that we have worth. Others of us agree with everyone, even when they disagree! We don’t want to risk being seen as an outsider. My girls and I have reduced the term ‘mansplaining’ to just ‘splaining’ because women are just as prone to lecture as men. But the need to ‘splain’ comes from a real desire to be seen as someone who is wise or knowledgeable. We show off what we know to gain approval. Too bad it doesn’t work.
We are all familiar with the lengths to which adolescents will go in order to gain approval within a certain group. But in truth, we are no different. As adults, we assume false identities that seem more acceptable than the truth about who we are. I find the videos where girls take off their makeup amusing, going from model to normal girl in seconds. It takes a lot of energy and time to apply so many cosmetics. Masks are the same. If we find ourselves exhausted after being with people, it may not have anything to do with being an introvert. Our masks take a lot of energy to maintain and we know in the back of our minds that they can be wiped off just like makeup with one slip of a washcloth.
2: Insecurity prevents us from accepting approval.
If it weren’t bad enough that we can get desperate for approval, those of us who are genuinely insecure can’t even accept approval when we get it. We know we are just frauds who don’t deserve it. We are getting that approval only because we hid who we really were just well enough to fool someone. When insecurity has a hold on us, there is a chasm between who we are and who we project. Any love given to us doesn’t reach our true selves but goes into the gap between who we are and who we pretend to be.
This level of insecurity can undermine all of our relationships. What satisfaction is there in loving us if our spouses and friends are denied the gift of seeing their love give pleasure? Ever gift given is rejected with you shouldn’t have or a This is much too nice for me! When we deny ourselves the pleasures of love, we deny others those pleasures as well. I remember an old boyfriend asked me if I could be pleased. His ex-wife was an example of extreme insecurity and he didn’t want to go that route again.
3: Insecurity doesn’t trust anyone.
One give away of an insecure person is that they ask the same question over and over. That questioning won’t stop until they get the answer they are waiting for; that is, the negative answer. If we lie to anyone, ourselves or others, we stop trusting ourselves and others. We know how easy it is to lie and we project our dishonesty onto others. Sound like politics? Sure, because one of the foundational truths about life is that generally, accusers are guilty of what they accuse others of. This is a basic Biblical truth. Proverbs 4:23 says that out of a man’s heart he speaks. This means that our mouths reveal what’s truly in our own hearts. Another way Matthew 7:2 puts it is that if we judge we will be judged. After all, we recognize the speck in someone else’s eye because it looks a lot like the log in ours.
But without trust, no relationship can happen. Trust and truth (two words that come from similar roots) are needed for love to grow. Insecurity is fallow ground for love to take root.
4: Insecurity causes instability.
I call the back and forth that relationships often undergo, the insecurity see-saw. We pull people in because we are needy. If they get too close, however, we push them away because insecurity fears intimacy. So the relationship is unstable and volatile. In fact, the moment emotional intimacy begins to happen, the insecure person gets angry and defensive. Why? Because they can’t risk being known. Then the jig would be up. They might know who we are and then they would definitely leave us. At least, that is the reasoning in our hearts.
Insecure people are often pretty brittle. They can lose their tempers fairly easily if they feel threatened. And because the insecure take everything personally, their tempers flare. Constant paranoia that everyone is talking about you, judging you, finding fault with you, could make anyone edgy. The paradox is that we who are insecure are powerfully self-absorbed for people who think so poorly of themselves.
5: Insecurity is just shame, disguised.
Shame is being convinced that something is wrong with the very fabric of who we are. Shame causes us to apologize constantly. We find ourselves offensive and wrong, so we are sure that we offend everyone we meet. We hate ourselves so we are convinced that others hate us too. If we find ourselves apologizing, sure that we have said or done something to tick everyone off, our insecurity may be controlling our thought processes. Anxiety is the hallmark of an insecure person. Everyone is scary because, in our minds, they have the power to see through our ruses to the terrible person underneath.
As a single mom, fresh out of an abusive relationship, I found myself feeling terribly insecure. I didn’t have the resources for counseling so I improvised. I wrote down scriptures about God’s love on tiny pieces of paper. Whenever I felt the panic of insecurity begin to swamp me, I would stop and meditate on one of those verses. I imagined God holding my hand or hugging me. I concentrated on truth with all the concentration I could muster. Overcoming insecurity takes time but it can be done. After about nine months, my insecurity levels diminished noticeably. I still have moments now and then. I am, after all, a real person. But time and again, people tell me this worked for them after months of determination.
Ask yourself if you want to be whole. If the answer is yes, then remember that with God, the answer is yes and amen! Don’t believe me? Believe His word in 2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
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